I work in the Air Force Budget and Appropriations Liaison Office and have over 10 years experience in working with the Congress. Our politicians have a healthy distrust of public institutions which is unfortunitely well deserved. The executive and legislative branches were designed to be distrustful of each other as mechanism to encourage active checks and balances between the 2 branches. This is true at every level: National, state, and local.
In answer to your specific questions, our political leaders do appreciate the expertise of many of our government employees, but do distrust their motives and competence. (note: expertise doesn’t necesarily equate to competence). The view of the bureaucracy is consistnent no matter which political party controls the white house. Of course, republicans tend to be less trustful of “big” government, however both parties have a healthy distrust. I believe trust in the bureaucracy tends to wane the longer a member of congress serves. This is why I am not a proponent of term limits. Term limits shift power from the legislative to the executive branch because the executive is then able to outmanuveur inexperienced legislators. Experienced legislators are able to better provide the level of oversight required to keep the executive in check. Elected officials do tend, in my experience, to trust the compentence of the Defense Department in the conduct of operations, i.e., the “tip” of the spear forces. But, they distrust those in the pentagon. Failure in the execution of appropriations with regards to high dollar acquisition programs are a prime source of distrust and its frankly well desearved. The DoD hasn’t been a good stuart of the people’s money in that regard. The electorate does have an impact on the competence of the bureaucracy. They do demand competent services and expect fair as reasonable use of the taxpares money. This has been clear with the development of the tea party for example. Voter demands for such is on the rise.
My thoughts…great topic.